Over the two decades or so that I’ve been writing about male grooming I’ve probably been asked thousands of questions. Many of them are answered in this blog, others across the various publications I’ve written for over the years. Some questions come up time and again, though, and I recently answered 20 of the most common of them for The Telegraph. So if you’re wondering how much fragrance is too much, whether five blades really are better than one or what products you should never put near your nether regions you can find out here.
They might be stylish. They might be convenient. But like grizzly bears, grizzly beards can be wild, untamed and prickly old things if not taken care of correctly. So here are five ways to tame the beast – with a little help from me and Brisk beard care…
1. Keep in trim.
A neat beard is a sweet beard so ensure you keep your face fungus tidy with the help of a decent, adjustable beard trimmer. Use a brush or comb to straighten the hairs out before trimming and always trim your beard when it’s bone dry: hair expands and relaxes when wet so if you trim it when it’s damp it’ll look shorter once it dries. Remember, too, that your beard doesn’t have to be the same length all over. By cutting it a few millimetres shorter under the chin you’ll create a much softer, more natural transition line. You can do the same if you have a bushy beard and very little hair on your head – by ‘fading’ the sideburns up towards the head you’ll prevent a jarring divide.
2. Comb and condition.
As with relationships, beards tend to be trickiest in their early stages. The first few days of growing one can be uncomfortable and challenging: your new chin accessory may itch, tickle and feel strange to begin with. But there are things you can do to minimise any initial discomfort. Applying a little Brisk Beard Oil throughout the growing process will help keep hair soft, manageable and conditioned. Quickly absorbed and non-greasy, it’s the perfect for minimising the itch and there are four versions to choose from: Tea Tree; refreshing Citrus; warm and masculine Cedarwood; and Unfragranced if you prefer to smell au naturel. You can apply using your fingertips or use a moustache comb or beard brush to distribute it evenly throughout your beard
3. Give your beard a blow dry.
Yep, you can blow dry the hair on your face just like the hair on your head. Simply use a small brush or comb to ease the hair downwards with the help of a hairdryer on a cool setting. Once dry, apply a little beard oil to finish off. This a great way to tame unruly beards, fill in small bald patches and to ensure your beard looks neat, tidy and at its fullest.
4. Dodge dandruff.
If you were to run your fingers through you beard right now chances are, you’d trigger a small snowstorm of skin flakes (go on, try it). If you do, don’t feel too bad – beard dandruff is an occupational hazard of having facial hair. It occurs because hair tends to draw moisture away from the face, leaving the skin beneath dry and dehydrated. On top of that, because you’re not shaving regularly any dead skin cells can build up beneath your beard.
Thankfully, minimising beard dandruff is simple: firstly, cleanse your beard thoroughly with Brisk’s Beard Shampoo, which is designed to cleanse without stripping skin and hair of its protective oils. By massaging in with your fingertips you’ll quickly dislodge any stray dead cells. Choose between the Unfragranced Beard Shampoo or the Tea Tree and Cedarwood version. Tea tree is known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties so is great for ensuring your beard is clean and fresh. Then apply one of Brisk’s Beard Oils (my own favourite is the Citrus one) to ensure hair is conditioned and the skin beneath it is hydrated. Again, make sure you massage in with your fingers to ensure it reaches the skin beneath.
5. Be patient!
If your face furniture looks patchy and uneven in places be patient. Like raising a child you never quite know how your beard will turn out until it’s fully grown. If it looks patchy don’t panic – as it grows in length some gaps will fill in naturally. Yes, it will look a bit wild for a while but keep it clean and conditioned and show it some love and you’ll soon have a beard that’s tamed and looking top-notch.
Brisk Beard Oils combine nourishing natural almond, avocado, argan and jojoba oils in an ultra-light formula that’s highly conditioning is quickly absorbed. All Brisk Beard Shampoos are designed to leave facial hair clean, soft and manageable and are paraben & sulphate free. Available from Waitrose, Boots, Superdrug and from briskgrooming.co.uk.
A Brisk/Grooming Guru Promotion
I’m often asked to recommend my favourite moisturisers and if you happen to be looking for one my recent piece for telegraph.co.uk will certainly help point you in the right direction, regardless of your skin type or the size of your wallet. To see my picks simply click here or on the image above. Happy New Year – and happy hydrating!
Chances are, you’re using too much. Eye creams are great at combating puffiness, dark circles and fine lines but they’re potent things and the skin around your eyes is very fragile so smothering the area with too much eye cream can counteract its benefits.
Unfortunately, a lot of men tend to think that using more of a product leads to better results but eye creams, along with serums and scrubs are products where less is often more.
So to get the most out of your eye cream gently pat a tiny amount (no bigger than a small grain of rice) around the edge of each eye socket using the tip of your ring finger. This finger has the lightest touch so it’s perfect for applying eye products. Don’t rub the cream in as this can irritate the delicate skin around the eye.
Layering is useful way to build up a long-lasting fragrance ‘impression’ by using products from your favourite scent’s body range and is the perfect way to smell great all day long, without having to reapply your fragrance.
To layer, simply use the fragranced shower gel, soap, deodorant and aftershave balm in tandem, finishing off with some eau de toilette. Using body products from the same range as your fragrance also helps you avoid nasty antiperspirant/shower gel clashes and, if your favourite range includes a fragranced body moisturiser, will help the scent last a little longer on the skin. Layering’s also great for achieving a subtler effect too, however. If you’re going for an interview or just want to smell good for work, for example, apply everything but the eau de toilette.
If you want to improve the look, feel and manageability of your hair, a conditioner is certainly a good idea, yes. Regular shampooing tends to strip hair of its natural protective oils and brushing, blow-drying, central heating and hostile weather can damage the hair’s outer surface.
Each hair is covered in tiny cells which look a bit like fish scales and damage to the hair causes these to stand out which makes the hair look dull and out of condition. Conditioners work by smoothing down these “cuticles” so your hair looks smooth and shiny again. They’re also great at reducing static.
All hair types benefit from conditioning but with greasy hair the trick is to use the conditioner sparingly and if hair is long, to concentrate on working it through the ends which tend to be drier.
As for how long you need to leave it on your hair, the answer is not long. You can usually ignore whatever it says on the bottle unless you’re using a ‘leave-in’ conditioner – most good ones work immediately so can be washed off once you’ve massaged them in.
First off, if you’re suffering from tangled or knotted hair I pretty much hate you because it means that, unlike me, you have a pretty thick thatch. But, hey, I’m not so bitter that I won’t provide an answer to your little hair problem.
The best solution is to invest in a Salon Elite Tangle Teezer (£11.20 from tangleteezer.com). A specially designed knot-busting hairbrush it’s the perfect way to keep your barnet tangle-free. “Guys can get really hung up on how much hair gets left in regular hairbrushes after detangling so can be a bit scared about brushing out knots,” says the brush’s inventor Sean P. “With Tangle Teezer, the teeth uncoil the hair in a natural manner so there’s no pulling or yanking and there’s very little hair left in the brush.” Bad news for Wayne Rooney’s transplant surgeon maybe, but good news for you.
It’s one of the most common grooming nightmares so here are five simple ways to halt the halitosis…
Gargle Using a mouthwash doesn’t just freshen breath it dislodges trapped particles of food. What’s more, if you use a product like Dentyl Active Ultra Cleanse (£4.38 for 500ml from boots.com) which contains an antibacterial ingredient, it’ll stop bacteria going to work afterwards too. Opt for an alcohol-free one. “Not only has alcohol been linked to mouth cancer, it dries out the mouth too making you more likely to get bad breath,” says Dr Uchenna Okoye, Clinical Director of the London Smiling Dental Group.
Go interdental Brushing’s all very well and good but it can leave up to 40% of your tooth surfaces uncleaned and it’s often the gaps between teeth that harbour odour-causing bacteria and decaying food. Yet according to a Listerine survey over 18 million never floss. If you find flossing fiddly Okoye recommends using a pre-loaded picks like Crest Glide Floss Picks (£3.99 for 20 from amazon.co.uk) which spare you having to wrap the stuff around your fingers.
Kiss. Or chew According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry a bit of tonsil tennis may be able to prevent tooth decay and minimise bad breath by stimulating saliva production – saliva being a natural source of bacteria-busting enzymes. If you’ve nobody to snog try chewing some sugar free gum like Wrigley’s Orbit Complete with xylitol, 69p from tesco.com. “Ones containing Xylitol are especially good as it actually slows down growth of bacteria,” says Okoye. It’s not as much fun as kissing, obviously, but works just as well.
Go for tongues In most cases 85% of cases bad breath actually originates from the tongue not the teeth or gums. “The tongue has lots of grooves and crevices for bacteria to lurk on so clean it regularly,” say Okoye. You can use your toothbrush but the best way to remove bacteria is with a tongue scraper like Oolitt Excel Tongue Cleanser, £3.56 from amazon.co.uk
Spray don’t pray Lots of things can help you prevent bad breath when you’re on-the-go (Okoye recommends chewing on cardamon pods or fennels seeds) but if you’re looking for an effective pocket breath freshening spray try Retardex Oral Spray, £2.65 for 8.3ml from chemistdirect.co.uk. “It’s designed to eliminate and not just mask odours and is the only thing I have found that immediately cures garlic breath,” she says.
I’ve given lots of interviews in the ten years or so I’ve been writing about male grooming but the one conducted by Australian Beauty & Grooming Expert Will Fennell for DNA magazine has definitely been the most fun.
More a playful game of tag than an interview I found it hugely entertaining to take part in (and as a journalist I don’t say that often) and though being pictured next to Will was always going to leave me looking decidedly like ‘the ugly friend’ I thought I’d share it with you anyway. So if you fancy reading it click DNA INTERVIEW 147. And no, that’s not my quote about the flashlight by the way!
It has to be men’s biggest grooming concern. It’s certainly the one fraught with the most danger. And still we shave. So if you’re having trouble with razor burn, want to know how to maximise razor glide or are struggling with ingrown hairs, check out my shaving guide in Beauty Magazine‘s special Man Up! supplement. You can read it online by clicking here.